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European Business Association calls to improve linguistic bill

24/ 10/ 2018
  The international business community supports the adoption of a bill that will create conditions for the development of the Ukrainian language which will not interfere with business processes. It is important to remember that we are a European country. So, we must be open and understandable to our neighbors. We must create conditions for businesses to enter international markets and not limit the possibilities of cooperation with foreign partners. In early October, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine considered bills aimed at regulating the state language policy and adopted bill No. 5670-d. The business community supports the need to adopt a draft law. At the same time, some of its provisions need to be clarified and refined. For example, improvements are required in relation to the language of markings on labels, software interfaces, technical documentation, the language of advertisements and the time when the new rules come into force. The law is a strategic document defining a general concept. We believe that the regulation of the issue, such as the size of the font on the label, is a matter for sectoral legislation because the size of the font may depend on the characteristics of the product itself. So, for informing the consumer on the label, both Ukrainian and foreign languages ​​can be used. At the same time, different countries have different labeling requirements and content on the label. Therefore, simply translating the text on the label into different languages ​​will not provide the necessary information to the consumer. There are common standards that should be considered if we want to go to international markets. So, this part of the draft law requires changes. Also, the draft law does not regulate the language of the advertisement, which, in the opinion of business, is an important aspect. So, if the advertisement was designed for a foreign-speaking consumer or the advertisement’s production took place abroad, its broadcasting only in Ukrainian may not be clear to certain consumers. Therefore, in the example of video advertising, broadcasting with a translation into Ukrainian may be a good alternative. In addition, the introduction of the requirement for the translation of the interface and all technical documentation into Ukrainian may lead to delays in the supply of products to Ukraine and put at risk the supply of some items. EBA members state that the introduction of new requirements for labeling and the interface can lead to a decrease in some types of products by up to 40%. Also, this can be a reason for an increase in the cost of imported goods, for example, household appliances and medical products for patients. We believe that user interface and technical documentation can be prepared in the official languages ​​of the European Union, for example, in English. The translation of the technical documentation into the state language should be carried out in the amount necessary for controlling bodies. The control over the use of the state language, in accordance with the draft law, is to be carried out by the Commissioner for the Protection of the State Language through Linguistic Expertise. It is assumed that this person has the right to visit enterprises without limit and receive any documents for conducting linguistic inspections. However, such broad powers could present a risk of abuse. The business community therefore proposes to describe the functions of such a Commissioner in more detail. It is also worth noting that each law must take into account the practical side of the implementation of requirements and the realistic terms. In this case, for example, there is the question of what to do with goods that are already in circulation or which will be imported in the near future. According to European practice, the transfer of markings to new standards usually takes up to three years. Unfortunately, bill number 5670-d refers to only six months. The European Business Association has prepared relevant proposals and appeals to the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Culture and Spirituality with a request to take them into consideration and to finalize the bill before the second reading. It is important to do this now, considering the European experience and the practical implementation of new requirements on the territory of Ukraine, in order to produce a workable law and not need to spend time making many corrections.

The international business community supports the adoption of a bill that will create conditions for the development of the Ukrainian language which will not interfere with business processes.

It is important to remember that we are a European country. So, we must be open and understandable to our neighbors. We must create conditions for businesses to enter international markets and not limit the possibilities of cooperation with foreign partners.

In early October, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine considered bills aimed at regulating the state language policy and adopted bill No. 5670-d. The business community supports the need to adopt a draft law. At the same time, some of its provisions need to be clarified and refined. For example, improvements are required in relation to the language of markings on labels, software interfaces, technical documentation, the language of advertisements and the time when the new rules come into force.

The law is a strategic document defining a general concept. We believe that the regulation of the issue, such as the size of the font on the label, is a matter for sectoral legislation because the size of the font may depend on the characteristics of the product itself. So, for informing the consumer on the label, both Ukrainian and foreign languages ​​can be used. At the same time, different countries have different labeling requirements and content on the label. Therefore, simply translating the text on the label into different languages ​​will not provide the necessary information to the consumer. There are common standards that should be considered if we want to go to international markets. So, this part of the draft law requires changes.

Also, the draft law does not regulate the language of the advertisement, which, in the opinion of business, is an important aspect. So, if the advertisement was designed for a foreign-speaking consumer or the advertisement’s production took place abroad, its broadcasting only in Ukrainian may not be clear to certain consumers. Therefore, in the example of video advertising, broadcasting with a translation into Ukrainian may be a good alternative.

In addition, the introduction of the requirement for the translation of the interface and all technical documentation into Ukrainian may lead to delays in the supply of products to Ukraine and put at risk the supply of some items. EBA members state that the introduction of new requirements for labeling and the interface can lead to a decrease in some types of products by up to 40%. Also, this can be a reason for an increase in the cost of imported goods, for example, household appliances and medical products for patients. We believe that user interface and technical documentation can be prepared in the official languages ​​of the European Union, for example, in English. The translation of the technical documentation into the state language should be carried out in the amount necessary for controlling bodies.

The control over the use of the state language, in accordance with the draft law, is to be carried out by the Commissioner for the Protection of the State Language through Linguistic Expertise. It is assumed that this person has the right to visit enterprises without limit and receive any documents for conducting linguistic inspections. However, such broad powers could present a risk of abuse. The business community therefore proposes to describe the functions of such a Commissioner in more detail.

It is also worth noting that each law must take into account the practical side of the implementation of requirements and the realistic terms. In this case, for example, there is the question of what to do with goods that are already in circulation or which will be imported in the near future. According to European practice, the transfer of markings to new standards usually takes up to three years. Unfortunately, bill number 5670-d refers to only six months.

The European Business Association has prepared relevant proposals and appeals to the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Culture and Spirituality with a request to take them into consideration and to finalize the bill before the second reading. It is important to do this now, considering the European experience and the practical implementation of new requirements on the territory of Ukraine, in order to produce a workable law and not need to spend time making many corrections.

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